Thankfully, it wasnt just the bankers who were bailed out earlier this month. Congress finally renewed the federal solar tax credits which, among other things, removed the $2,000 cap on residential systems. But the bill also contained another important change that affects the nations utilities directly. Under the previous plan, utilities could not directly apply for federal tax credits. Therefore, solar power generating facilities had to be built by private entities, which then sold the power to the utility. Under the new plan (effective January 1, 2009), utilities will be able to apply directly for tax credits. This will have significant ramifications for solar production says Julia Hamm, executive director of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Even with the current system of tax credits, notes Hamm, there are 5,000 MW worth of solar PV and thermal projects in the works. Now that the system allows for utility ownership, we can expect an even higher volume in 2009 and beyond. This may also pave the way for large-scale solar generating facilities owned and operated by public utilities. Thus giving utility customers some sway in the marketplace.